Instructions related to grading strike, December 2019

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Richard Hughey, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education; Quentin Williams, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies; Onuttom Narayan, Chair, Committee on Educational Policy; and Donald Smith, Chair, Graduate Council

Dear Colleagues,

As you are aware, some graduate students, including teaching assistants (TAs), are participating in a “wildcat strike,” and have indicated they will not be submitting fall 2019 grades. Some graduate student instructors (GSIs) may also participate.

It is the responsibility of the instructors of record and departments/colleges to, as best as possible, ensure our students can finish the quarter smoothly. Every effort should be made to ensure that the activities of proctoring exams, grading exams, and other duties carried out by GSIs and TAs are covered. The following guidance has been developed to assist faculty in addressing issues with the strike.

In order to make arrangements to complete the quarter, please review the following strike preparation information:

1. Communicating with ASEs

Although the University considers this an unlawful strike inviolation of the ASE’s collective bargaining agreement, faculty should be aware of potential concerns for striking employees under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) which governs public-sector, higher education union organizing and activities. 

This wildcat strike is an unlawful activity and ASEs may be subject to discipline, including pay docking and termination, for participating in an illegal strike in violation of their union contract. However, faculty should not unilaterally make determinations about disciplinary action and instead  consult with their chair, who should discuss with their dean, and with labor relations. Additionally, faculty, who are typically considered to be managers and supervisors under HEERA, should not engage in any activity which threatens academic student employees, even if they are participating in the grading strike.   

2. Coursework and grades to date

Consider all previous coursework and grading that included involvement of any ASEs. Request that your ASE(s) deliver to you all student work and documents required for course grading as soon as possible. Participating graduate students have been asked by strike leaders to remove information related to grading from Canvas, keeping records of their own but not allowing it to be used by instructors of record. Instructors should export a copy of their grade book to ensure they have a copy of information that will allow them to grade. The Gradebook History function in Canvas provides a record of modified grades. Faculty Instructional Technology Center can be reached at

3. Finals week assignments and management

Consider the specific arrangements of your course to determine what alternative proctoring and assessments may be reasonable. If your final is to be proctored by an ASE, ensure your own availability or the availability of a qualified  backup proctor. If your course requires submission of a final assignment, ensure that collection can occur at a central location without the involvement of an ASE.

4. Grading of final assignments

In preparing your final assessment, be aware that TAs, readers, and tutors may not be available to assist with grading. To ensure smooth functioning of critical processes such as academic standing review, athletic eligibility, and graduation, grades are due on December 18. Any potential delays should be discussed with your chair or college provost.  The Office of the Registrar will provide access to a web form to departments and colleges to enter, by course, any adjusted timelines for submitting final fall grades. The Office of the Registrar will communicate grading delays to colleges reviewing students subject to disqualification based on grades. In specific cases, colleges may follow up with instructors regarding course performance.

5. Final examinations

Final examinations must be held for courses that are required to hold a final examination. In general, the specific form of a final examination is within the instructor’s responsibility.

6. Adjustment of course grading

Some instructors or students may be interested in adjusting how courses are graded, for example using different weightings among categories of student work in the measurement of student achievement of the course’s learning objectives. Such changes should be considered carefully, but the grading scheme for a course must conform to the parameters of what was approved by the Academic Senate when the course was approved. In addition, any changes should be done in ways that will not disadvantage students in one situation but advantage students in another. Students who see their grade as being arbitrarily impacted by any changes from what was described in the syllabus may wish to follow the informal and formal components of the undergraduate or graduate grade grievance process. 

5. Discussion with students

Please review your plans with your students as soon as you are able, in class and by email. The strike will leave some uncertainty for all, so patience should be emphasized as a principle during finals week. 

6. Winter course prerequisites

Satisfaction of prerequisite courses are not verified until after a final grade has been assigned. Thus, students with missing grades will not be dropped from dependent courses. The final prerequisite check is planned to take place on the Sunday before classes begin.

7. Incomplete Grades

In accordance with Senate regulations, incomplete grades should only be assigned when individually requested by the student, and when the student has completed work of passing quality, but the student’s work is not yet complete. An incomplete, as a grade, will cause the student to be dropped from any future courses that require completion of the class as a prerequisite. While advocated by the wildcat strike leaders, incomplete grades should not be assigned unless the normal requirements for assigning an incomplete are met.

8. Specific students on Financial Aid or Academic Probation

Instructors may be contacted by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships or a student’s college concerning specific students in unique situations for determination of student status in the course.  Please do your best to accommodate these requests; any questions or concerns can be directed to FASO Director Patrick Register ( or VPDUE Richard Hughey (

Concluding remark

While a disruptive activity of this kind can significantly impact student learning and the campus as a whole, it is important for the campus, especially for faculty in their dual roles as instructors and managers, to ensure a calm and positive experience for our undergraduate students during this key period of learning and assessment.

Thank you,

Richard Hughey
Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education

Quentin Williams, 
Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies

Onuttom Narayan
Chair, Committee on Educational Policy

Donald Smith
Chair, Graduate Council